Friday, 21 August 2015

Italy, Florence --> Venice {day 6}

Yep, the posts are still coming, but are nearing an end!

The pitter-patter of rain on our roof was a sound I haven't heard much since living in apartments and I've sort of missed it. But, in our rented apartment directly under the roof, the sound was both welcome as it broke the heat, and unwelcome as it sort of cast a shadow over our plans. That said, our plans weren't that amazing anyway... we tidied up the apartment and then set out, squished under the one umbrella we took along, to find Cannoli. I mean, cannoli in a cafe on a rainy morning in Florence is how many a romantic novel could begin.

We found our cannoli at a little bakery on the corner, and felt ridiculous with our little plate with two pinky-sized cannoli. I'd been holding out for ones that would be freshly filled, but gave up on that aspiration and found these to be quite tasty little treats! 

The rain was letting up a little, and the streets were deserted, so we decided to enjoy our last hour or two in Florence wandering around. We came across the San Lorenzo market's wild boar, saw some fancy up-market shops, and the other side of the Pont Vecchio.

The rain stopped and we went back to the apartment to pick up our luggage and hand back our key. The sun had come out and the humidity increased, but our walk to the station was pleasant enough and soon we were on our way to Venice. On the way from Rome to Florence, a lady in the seat in front of us pulled the blind down, and we had little view of the countryside, so I was really looking forward to having a view this time! 

But, since we were on the fast train and it seemed to be mostly going through tunnels, our view was mostly.... 


When we were finally through the hills though, and then on the expanse between the mainland the island, my excitement levels peaked when we saw Venice coming up - I was not expecting to be that excited!

It was surreal walking out of the station and instead of seeing the main road, there was the grand canal. This is the sort of thing that is so out of my everyday, something I've never seen and that I only ever expected to see in movies and documentaries.

We really didn't want to get lost, and actually had no idea where our hotel was, so we immediately bought a map and asked the guy in the shop where the street was we were looking for. It turned out to be super easy and really close to the station. We checked in and I was delighted to see our room - I was unsure what to expect from our 1-star hotel since pictures online can be misleading! And while our view wasn't spectacular, I found it charming. 

We were soon off, map in hand to make our way to St. Marks square, winding our way and getting distracted by the prettiness of the canals and bridges. Rialto Bridge was unfortunately under renovation, so we didn't linger there, but were soon at the Piazza.

St. Marks Cathedral closes at 5pm and at 4:45 there was still a long queue outside. But, the queue for the bell-tower was reasonable so we waited for about 20 minutes to go in. We were not really looking forward to another long walk up so many steps which only seemed worth it because of the view the tower promised. We were really excited though, when we realised that there's an elevator which would save us some energy! And, the view was spectacular - with Venice being so flat, we wouldn't have been able to see it laid out in front of us like this from anywhere else, and it was a great welcome to the city.

Eventually, we made our way back down again, which went so fast in the elevator! Strolling across the square we were amazed by the unbelievable amount of pigeons - and I got such a fright and clung to Malcolm's arm as they suddenly flew up and around us.

From St. Marks we went out in the direction of where the grand canal enters the sea and walked along the coast. I snapped pictures of bridges and the view, and took one of the bridge of sighs without realising that's what it was.

We had plans to visit the Arsenal the next day, but since we had time, we decided to have a look where exactly it was. Only the Ships Pavilion would be open the next day, which was good to know, and it was cool to see the military zone.

We wanted to take the most direct route back to our hotel, which involved looking carefully at our map and treating it like a maze to find where the dead-ends were. Sometimes we needed to ignore our sense of direction in favour of what the map said - those narrow streets are so easy to get lost in, but fortunately on an island one can't go too far ;) and it was fun navigating the streets and crossing quiet bridges.

We stopped off at our hotel and had intentions of just going to sleep, but the street outside sounded so lively that we didn't want to miss out! After showering, we were back out again to linger on the Ponte degli Scalzi, wander along the grand canal checking out the fancy water taxi's and enjoy the pretty lights reflecting off the water. 

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